Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for the final episode of The Wonderful Mrs Maisel.Well, friends, it looks like we have reached the end of the line. We have gathered here this sunny Friday morning to pay our respects The Wonderful Mrs Maisel as he took his final bow just after five most of the what a season. Put on your best clothes and a hat to match, don’t forget the brisket, and let’s celebrate the laughter, tears, and chaos that Midge Maisel went through (Rachel Brosnahan) has been bringing us to life since he first set foot on the Gaslight stage that fateful night.
Following Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) brief appearance in the premiere, fans were assured that he would make another appearance in the final episode. Unfortunately, this is an appearance that will likely have fans asking, “How much did it cost?” The episode opens in San Francisco in 1965, just a year before the real Lenny Bruce tragically dies, alone, in Los Angeles. Lenny is clearly in a downward spiral as he takes the stage, rambling about his legal cases and acting erratically. In the back of the club, Susie (Alex Borstein) watch with something akin to pity, and maybe a hint of regret. After the disastrous set ended, Susie found him in the green room and tried her best to coax him away with promises of food, coffee, and maybe even a well-paid gig. But Lenny was going too far at this point, and he didn’t want her to waste her help on someone like him.
After Lenny makes it clear he doesn’t want help, he and Susie split up, but not before Lenny asks if Midge is there too. Susie lied, presumably to spare them both further pain. In fact, Midge was anxiously waiting in the back alley, smoking and hoping Susie could pull Lenny out of the ravine he fell into. Midge ultimately decides she doesn’t want to talk to him, and it’s this moment that will likely haunt viewers who love their dynamic. Isn’t it bittersweet to watch Midge reflect on this moment at some point in a flash? Does it ever haunt him that he doesn’t see her anymore? That he didn’t try one last time? Because the scene ends with Susie promising she’ll try to talk to him again the next time she’s in LA—a somber reminder that it’s all too late.
On the surface, this opening sequence serves as a reminder that Midge and Lenny’s short-lived romance was doomed from the start—since Amy Sherman-Palladino chose to base it on a real-life comic with a tragic fate. The scene is clearly meant to showcase the tragedy, but instead, it reminds us of how delightfully dynamic Midge, Susie, and Lenny can be as scene partners, and the potential wasted from their shared chemistry and natural humor. Through it all, Luke Kirby has been a breath of fresh air, bringing Lenny to life with unforgettable charm and charisma. If only this season had room for the remaining good moments, instead of jumping into the worst aspects of the future. Ultimately, this is a case of what should have happened, should have happened.
Just four years before this scene, “Four Minutes” jumps back to the present with Susie and Midge discussing Susie’s conversation with Hedy (Nina Arianda) and his tactics to get Midge The Gordon Ford Show. Susie opens up about her past with Hedy — more specifically that the two women were together before Hedy married Gordon Ford (Reid Scott). Susie’s romantic preferences certainly come as no surprise, although it was a conversation long overdue and one that made Midge’s treatment of Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain) even more embarrassing in hindsight. Unfortunately, Sherman-Palladino never really managed to incorporate queer themes without being criticized for his disingenuous portrayal.
As soon as Midge arrived at work, she was called into Gordon’s office for a cold talk with him. He boiled all he had, as he called it “sent his dogs” after him to secure a place on the show. Using Hedy to get hold of Gordon was obviously a crushing blow, but it worked in the end – sort of. After her conversation with Gordon, in which she tells Midge she will be on the show, she spends most of the episode getting ready, calling her family to the show, and desperately trying to finally get what she wants throughout the entirety of her life. season. Unfortunately, when his hour finally came, Gordon delivered a very cruel revelation: he never planned for him to appear on the show as a comic, he invited him as his writer for his half-hearted “good of man” work.
Though Gordon flips the script, Midge manages to hold her own and be her effortlessly charming self during the episode, much to his chagrin. The audience is clearly enamored with Midge – and not just her family packing the room – which makes Gordon angrier than ever. Gordon sent the show into a commercial break early and decided, rather cheekily, that he would just waste the last four minutes of the episode, rather than allow Midge to have her moment in the spotlight. But when had Midge ever backed down without a fight?
Midge told Susie she had plans to do something reckless, which could ruin both of their careers, and she did. With four minutes left on the broadcast, Midge decided to take over the show and turned her five tight into a tight four. The comedy sets hark back to the stand-up set The Wonderful Mrs Maisel a series standout, paying homage to moxie Midge, who was in short supply in Season 5. In those four scintillating minutes, she’s a comedian without a prisoner, cracking jokes at the expense of her former mistress, the patriarch, and delivering the kind of humor that relates to women. To break the fourth wall of this review, Midge makes a delightfully snarky commentary on comedy that allows her to learn what it means to be heard for the first time, even if still not by a man. That’s a very relevant comment for your intrepid reviewer of the week. Men hate women who speak their minds about anything but compliments, and it’s no surprise that Midge got that feeling right after she sat back on Gordon Ford’s couch.
The phrase “The Wonderful Mrs. Maisel” is not uttered by anyone in the five seasons of the series, and tragically, it is the two-faced Gordon Ford who gives Midge her nickname. She introduces her to viewers as “The Wonderful Mrs. Maisel” with a dirt-eating grin on her face, only to tell her she was fired seconds later. No matter how hard Midge tries to escape, she’s stuck in the world of men until the bitter end, it seems.
As The Gordon Ford Show pull to close, The Wonderful Mrs Maisel take a step back to a simpler time – six months ago to be exact. As promised, Lenny does treat Midge to a Chinese party after their romantic interlude in his hotel room. It’s a sweet, simple scene that almost feels like an offer of peace in disguise. After the pain of the opening scene, fans were given one last chance to see Lenny and Midge at their best—flirting and talking about a future as comedians. There’s a cute comment about the fun night they’ve just shared and the ever-tempting corset of the show, and the moment is almost completely unencumbered by the weight of their bleak future. Lenny teases him about practicing his signature and assures him that he will become famous one day. Even in his final moments, The Wonderful Mrs Maisel showing the audience that Lenny has always been the one who put his full trust in Midge to be the architect of his own success. There was no room for doubt in her beliefs about him. The scene also reveals that the luck Midge brought with her came from the fortune cookie she opened with Lenny—a cookie she used to shower him with compliments and encouragement. Is it better to have loved and lost this near-partner, than never to have had them at all? In the end, the bitter grief seemed to suggest yes: it was worth the pain.
Indeed, the finale manages to bring everything together—as much as possible, at this point—at the last moment. The series’ final flashback takes the viewer to 2005, during which Midge’s career is still developing, although it is clear that she is becoming increasingly isolated. Sure, he’s surrounded by his employees who keep his house tidy and keep up with his schedule and busy schedule, but their presence makes the absence of others even more apparent. With minutes left in the series, it looks like Midge’s future is bleak, until it’s revealed that Midge and Susie have miraculously repaired their friendship.
The Wonderful Mrs MaiselIts final season wasn’t as “amazing” as it could have been, but at least in the end, the series acknowledged that Midge and Susie’s friendship has always been its emotional anchor. We may never know the specific things that caused them to bury the hatchet, but at least we will always make them laugh together while watching. Danger, like a pair of old chicks. The series has had its ups and downs (most recently the last) but the cast has always been a beacon of humor and shining hearts. Despite the many loose threads hanging over Season 5, fans are still being given ample time to settle for what has been considered closure these days. Surely, no one would be clamoring for a Years in Life-Style returns within a decade or two. Let’s let the curtain close on Midge Maisel’s life, once and for all.
Complete series of The Wonderful Mrs Maisel is streaming now on Prime Video.